THE WATHAURONG Co-operative has announced their Community NAIDOC winners, acknowledging their commitment to culture and community.
The awards were presented at a community Christmas event held in December, which allowed Wathaurong community members to gather for the first time in almost eight months.
Traditionally, NAIDOC weeks is celebrated in July, however this year it was postponed to November due to COVID.
Ongoing lockdown restrictions meant much of the celebrations were digital with virtual events held across Victoria.
Despite the pandemic interrupting the usual revelry of the nation-wide event, 8,500 people still tuned in for a digital raising of the flag, which signified the beginning of the festival.
Glenn Shea won the Nedok Yoonga award for Elder/Respected Person. He was nominated by the community for his tireless commitment to the 40 year anniversary event of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Op. Additionally he was nominated for his work promoting and instilling culture through new and different activities.
Tahlia Dempsey won the Ngarrwa Ngitj award for Community Person. She was nominated for her passion and commitment to leadership in the early years space, for always putting community first and for keeping early years families connected through COVID.
The Kooley Goopma award for Young Male Achieve was shared by Keeden Graham and Jordan Edwards this year. Mr Graham was nominated for being a reliable, responsible and grounded role model for the younger generations. Additionally he was recognised for stepping in new challenges and thriving in leadership roles. He was also acknowledged for his selection into the Victorian Youth Congress this year.
Mr Edwards was nominated by members of the Wathaurong community for his work as an elected member of the First Peoples Assembly for Treaty, and his work engaging youth while also instilling and generating in them an appreciation of culture.
Tahleena Black and Naomi Edwards were joint winners of Moordeemoondeek Goopma award signifying Young Female Achievers.
Ms Black was nominated for her resilience, for being respectful and her growing ambition and pride.
Ms Edwards was nominated for her commitment to helping you families, her devotion to helping children and her strong sense of community and culture.
The theme of NAIDOC week this year was ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ recognising and celebrating the 65,000 years First Nation people have been caring for the continent.
Due to COVID the national NAIDOC awards ceremony was cancelled and no winners were announced.
Focus will now shift to Mparntwe (Alice Springs) which will be the focus city of next year’s NAIDOC celebrations.